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Seeing Mt Rainier in the winter (March) plus tire chains on

Boston...
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Seeing Mt Rainier in the winter (March) plus tire chains on

Hi, I have a business trip to Seattle in March and wanted to get people's comment as to whether it would be worth it to go see Mt. Rainier. I heard during that season, cars entering the car must be equipped with tire chains and certain centers within the park will be closed. I'll have a rental car so I guess I'd have to buy a tire chain since the rental car company doesn't provide it. This will be a day trip on a Saturday so some questions:

1). What are some of the top things to do and see with the park for a day trip in March? I heard the snowshow trek? Any small hiking opportunities?

2). Does the tire chain must be installed prior to enter the park? Or can you just have them on hand in case the weather turns bad?

3). Does anyone how of any place in Seattle area where you can rent tire chains? Is the Park really strict about cars being equipped with tire chains?

Thanks in advance.

Edited: 11:03 am, February 16, 2011
Poulsbo, Washington
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1. Re: Seeing Mt Rainier in the winter (March) plus tire chains on

Generally you do not need chains to visit Rainier. I used to cross country there a lot and I never put chains on. They do a pretty good job of keeping the road from the Nisqually entrance to Paradise open. Snowshoeing around Paradise and from Paradise to Reflection Lakes is fun. It can snow up there in March of course so check with the Park if the weather forecast is dicey. The best hikes will be inaccessible, but there are hikes at lower elevations around Longmire Lodge.

Eugene, Oregon
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2. Re: Seeing Mt Rainier in the winter (March) plus tire chains on

Although I can't speak from experience on this, I do know that bad weather in the Pacific Northwest can happen any time, especially in the mountains during the winter and spring months.

I've heard that some car rental companies will not allow chains...so be sure to check. If you do have to get chains, Les Schwab dealerships will let you buy them and return them if not used (there may be time constraints on the arrangement that might or might not fit with your limited stay in Seattle).

http://www.lesschwab.com/locator.asp

Unless road conditions "require" chains on all vehicles, you can usually get by with snow tires and/or 4WD/AWD vehicles....something to consider when deciding what to rent.

Boston...
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3. Re: Seeing Mt Rainier in the winter (March) plus tire chains on

Thank you both for your replies.

Why does the national park website says:

"Chain Requirements: All vehicles are required to carry tire chains when traveling in the park during the winter season (Nov 1 - May 1). This requirement applies to all vehicles (including four-wheel drive), regardless of tire type or weather conditions. Review the Tire Chain Frequently Asked Questions for more information."

nps.gov/mora/…winter-recreation.htm

Will you be turned away and not allowed to enter the park if you don't carry tire chains? Do they check? Thanks

Eugene, Oregon
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4. Re: Seeing Mt Rainier in the winter (March) plus tire chains on

Required to carry and required to use are two different matters. You get similar requirements when crossing Siskiyou Pass between Oregon and California. Sometimes, you'll see "traction devices" required. That includes snow tires, studded tires and AWD/4WD. They don't check to see if you have chains....until conditions are such that you HAVE to put them on. By then, you'll know you're in trouble before the authorities telll you you're in trouble.

Eugene, Oregon
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5. Re: Seeing Mt Rainier in the winter (March) plus tire chains on

I've just looked at the park website that you noted...and it's quite clear that you ARE required to carry chains. I'll repeat my suggestion that you get some at Les Schwab and hope to be able to return them unused.

My preference would be to come back during the summer. But that's only because I'll do anything to avoid messing with chains.

6. Re: Seeing Mt Rainier in the winter (March) plus tire chains on

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